Friday, November 30, 2012

Lessons from the Emptying Nest

Lessons from the Emptying Nest

The emptying nest. I have dreaded this era of my life since June 2, 1993. It was the day I became the mother of my lovely 19 year old daughter Gabriela Maria. My mother had often repeated the idea during my life that our children are just loaned to us by God, for a brief time to be launched out in the world when they are ready, yet the thought of letting go of my precious daughter was frightening to me. 

We are very close. I only worked for one terrible year outside the home, missing my sweet toddler all day till I rushed home from school at 2:00 PM to nurse her to sleep for her afternoon nap. I vowed never to work outside the home full time, and thanks to my husband, I was able to keep that promise.  I devised ways to be home as much as possible, from running a home day care, to teaching at a local college Saturdays while she and her sisters spent time bonding with Daddy. They rode bikes and went to the beach, and I would find them disheveled and happy when I returned from work.

We homeschooled for eleven years, then Gabbi went to a Catholic high school where she became a leader in the pro-life club and student government. It wasn’t easy, moving from Long Island to Connecticut in her freshman year, she was angry at me for her entire 15th year, but now thanks me for taking advantage of the beautiful Catholic community in Eastern Connecticut, where we have many friends. 

We prepared for college all summer, she helping me organize a home office so I could live without her gift for organization and me helping her build a wardrobe and fix her car. I couldn’t bring myself to help Gabbi pack; however, I left that to her younger sister, 15 year old Bella. The two would talk and laugh long into the night, while sorting through the stuff of their shared room. I fought the dread of her departure all summer, often succumbing to morose reflections like, “You won’t be going to Mass with us next month.”

When the day arrived, I was remarkably calm. After all, leaving a beloved child at Franciscan University of Steubenville is a reason to celebrate, not mourn. Freshman Orientation was as much a time of learning for the parents as the students. We celebrated inspiring Masses and learned the term, “dynamic orthodoxy” which is the hallmark of a Franciscan student. Living the fullness of the Catholic Faith with all the boisterous joy of a college student, all the while growing in knowledge of the richness of our theology, I discovered that Gabbi was one of an exclusive club, one of only two transfer students admitted into the third rated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program in the nation. Her father and I were bursting with pride as we drove down University Boulevard towards the bridge to West Virginia. Our job would now consist in being Gabbi’s cheerleaders and intercessors.

Once we returned home I turned my attention to the two daughters still at home; my 15 year old high school student, Isabella and 10 year old Christina with Down syndrome. Bella, like Gabbi had homeschooled for her Freshman Year of high school, and was entering a Catholic prep school which would challenge her both academically and spiritually. Christina was experiencing some physical challenges and I had just discovered that she has a sensory processing disorder, which impedes her ability to communicate. 

The needs of my younger girls being so demanding, I missed Gabbi’s company all the more. After adjusting to life in the countryside in Connecticut, Gabbi had become my confidante. Bella is going through the agony of a 15 year old who is becoming independent while still at home and I have to do the delicate dance of mom who is needed but not always welcome. Christina has difficulty expressing her needs so I have to learn about her conditions, and then take educated guesses at how to meet her needs.

I spend long hours talking to specialists and taking her to appointments where she can receive needed therapy. I arise before six to drive Bella to school, and work with Christina who has to be coached through her dressing routine in the morning.

So, these lovely daughters have less emotional gratification to offer Mom than their absent sister, yet I have become more disciplined in my prayer life, adding a three o’clock Divine Mercy Chaplet , and Rosary walk of 1-2 miles and reading Magnificat in the morning. I have made efforts to spend time with good Catholic friends who support me. This has given me the strength to endure teenage trauma, and the added work of a child with special needs while Gabbi is busy building her future over 500 miles away.

So when Gabbi came home this weekend, and at last I embraced my college girl, she was as impressed with how much her sisters and I have grown as we were regarding her newfound independence. We have never been more grateful to God at Thanksgiving than this year of the newly emptying nest. 

~Leticia Velasquez, Co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome) 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Who's Teaching Whom?

I am pleased to welcome Judy Dudich to "Catholic Moms Talk" as a quest blogger today. Judy is the author of I Surrender, the study guide for women seeking Christ as the center of their daily lives. She is owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life: the website that uplifts, encourages, and supports you in your daily family life journey. 

With her husband Tom, Judy is  blessed with ten children and four grand-children and each day enjoys learning along-side the eight kids who are still at home with them. She writes a regular column on several websites, including : FAR Above Rubies and Judy's online radio show, Mothers at Home, is enjoyed on Blog Talk Radio. You can find all links to Judy's blogs, websites, books, and social networks by visiting

Who's Teaching Whom?

I recently  read a quote which aptly describes my mothering-heart. The author was listed as, "Anonymous" ("Anonymous" has become one of my most favorite authors, through the years!). 

"I have been busy teaching my children all about life. They have been busy, teaching me what life is all about." 

As a Catholic, homeschooling mother of ten and "Grammy" to four, I could be offered as a living testament to the truth of this statement. Often, I ask my darlings, "Who's teaching whom, here?" 

In fact, that's one of the greatest blessings God has brought to me through our homeschooling and family life journey; the opportunity to learn along-side and "from" my children. 

Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed a "Year of Faith" for our One, Holy, and Apostolic Church. Truly, this couldn't have come at a more appropriate, pertinent, and needed time. (Which is why he's the Pope, right?) 

As I ponder this title and reflect and pray about ways that I can live out the Holy Father's commission to us, I am repeatedly drawn to thoughts of my children; and, the anonymous quote, above. 

I can teach my children the catechism. Of course, I am instructed by the Catechism to teach my children the Catechism.  This Catholic text tells me that, as a Catholic wife and mother, 

I am the first and foremost educator in the lives of my children. Further, that I am obligated to provide a truly Catholic education for each and all of them.  I, like other parents the-world-over, try my best to do just that. 

However, through it all, during it all, in the lessons, after the lessons, in conjunction with the lessons, it is I who am being them. 

This "Year of Faith" is to be lived. It is to be celebrated. It is to be shared. We are being called forth to study, to know and try our best to understand our beautiful, timeless, and lasting Catholic Faith. 

The current state of political affairs, family life (and the attack on it), faith life (or, lack of it) and day-to- day issues that the average American is dealing with, tells me that the time has come for us, as Catholics to be "real", "authentic", and "courageous" (not to mention "steadfast", "zealous", and "loyal") in our Faith.  

Two of my children are grown, married, and raising families of their own. Eight, are still at home with my husband and me. I look at them, and I can't help but think of Saint Francis of Assisi, who said, "Preach the Gospel, and, if necessary, use words."

My children would not be described, in most circles, as "outspoken". They are, indeed, comfortable speaking to others; though none really goes out of his/her way to "take the stage" so-to-speak, when it comes to espousing matters of the Faith to the general public. They know their Faith, they adhere to the Teachings of the Catholic Church, and they are pretty good at "Apologetics," when confronted or approached by someone trying to "trip them up" or "put them on the spot."

In the spirit of the teaching of Saint Francis, however, it moves me to tears, fills my heart with joy, and, mostly, humbles me, to observe my children "preaching the Gospel" in the way they live their lives; each and every day. 

Christ is alive in the youth of our world, today. I see Him, in my children. The "Year of Faith" is being brought to life. I see it in my children. 

I see it when I walk into a room and find one of my older kids helping his/her little brother or sister to memorize the Ten Commandments.  

I see it when there is a new face in the crowd of our parish and I watch my teens go up to that person, after Mass, to welcome them and shake their hand. 

I see it when I watch them bow their head and offer a heartfelt intention, at the beginning of our family rosary, for a friend in need, for the unborn; even for our president. 

I see it when they do something wrong, and quietly come to me, in private, to speak truth and apologize. 

I see it when they have the courage to change the radio station, in front of their friends, when an inappropriate song is being played.  

I see it when they take bags of sandwiches to the homeless, in the park.  

I see it when they go with my husband and friends to serve the residents at Mother Teresa's House in Washington, DC. 

I see it, each month, when my teens give their free time; as they've done for the last four years, to serve and work at our local food pantry; helping those in need in our community.  

This "Year of Faith" is alive and well in my children. And, they are teaching me "all about life." 

I saw it, when our pastor announced that he was going to walk 100 miles to witness for the Catholic Church: as a  penance, in reparation for our sins, as a quiet testimony against the unjust laws, taking away religious freedom in our nation, and as a way to be seen, in this"Year of Faith" so as to draw others to Christ and win souls for His Glory; and my teens immediately said, "YES! WE WILL JOIN YOU WE WILL WALK 100 MILES FOR THE CATHOLIC FAITH AND FREEDOM!" 

It was summer time. It was scorching-hot outside. It was their vacation time from school; their "free" time. And, they gave it to the Church. They gave it to God. They gave it to their fellow man. They suffered blisters. They missed their family for the eight days it took to get to the Basilica, in Baltimore, MD. They climbed mountains. They slept on hard floors. They were frightened, walking on the edges of highways, with tractor trailers blowing past them at 65 miles an hour. Yet, they never complained. Not once. They never whined. They (and the other awesome teens who were with them) went without much sleep, without showers, without bathrooms and more...because they believe in this "Year of Faith." They believe in their Church. They believe in their country. They believe in freedom.  

I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a woman of God. I own my own website. I'm a published author. I'm an online speaker and radio show host.  

And, yet, in this proclaimed "Year of Faith," I am a humble student, at the feet of my children; for, like Saint Francis, they are, indeed, preaching the Gospel, by living their lives. 

Our hope lies in Christ Jesus. And, He makes Himself known to us through others. I give thanks for the Youth of America. They are on-fire with love for the Holy Spirit and they want to live their Catholic Faith, in-full; not partially, not cafeteria-style, but, completely, consistently, and joyfully. They are the future of our nation. They are the vessels that God will use to share His love with the world. 

It doesn't matter what is happening in the White House, as much as it matters what is happening in our own houses.  

"I am busy teaching my children all about  life. They are busy teaching me what life is all about."

Monday, November 26, 2012

As Simple as That

I am pleased to welcome Mary Ellen Barrett to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Mary Ellen is a mother of eight children and wife to her husband, David. She is a writer, speaker, homeschooling mom and picker up of Legos in Lindenhurst, New York.

Mary Ellen is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic as well as an editorial advisor for Mater et Magistra Magazine. She chronicles the journey of living a faithful, but imperfect, always trying to be better, Catholic family life on her blog: Tales From the Bonny Blue House ( Mary Ellen also blogs about the dangers of the occult and the New Age at

As Simple as That

I need to let you in on a little secret.  I married a heathen.  Not a total heathen since he was baptized as an infant but my husband was raised having received no other sacraments or any religious instruction at all. David’s father was a fallen away Catholic who baptized his first child in deference to his own mother and his mom was raised Jewish and only kept the more cultural customs rather than any religious worship.

His not being Catholic never concerned me, which was odd since he was the first non-Catholic I had ever seriously dated. The thing was, my mom and dad liked him, a rarity in my dating life up till that time.  As they began to know David, my parents were giddy with happiness that I finally brought home a man who, in my father’s words, “wasn’t completely useless.”

That aside, David was completely supportive of my faith and often came to church with me. As soon as my mother heard this she declared him full of potential and gave me her full blessing.  All this, I want you to know while the poor man had no idea we were planning the rest of his life for him. When he did make the connection that we were made for each other my parents were thrilled to welcome him to the family and my mom immediately began a relentless and hidden rosary campaign for his conversion.
When we discussed having children David mentioned that he would like two. I turned my brown eyes on him and said, “I’ve always wanted a large family.”  “Ok,” he replied, “three would be good.” I smiled and bowed to his wisdom.

We had eight. Through that openness to life that desire to fulfill my desire for a family his heart gave over to love. Love of family and love of God.  It was complicated and yet simple. He loved me, so he loved our children and he came to realize that love was reflective of the love of God for us all.

With every baby, immediately after giving birth, my first thought would be that I could not wait to do this again. As Pope John Paul II said, “In the newborn child is realized the common good of the family.”  Every baby has brought good to my family in ever increasing ways as well as a stronger realization that the work of motherhood was holy work. Eternal work.

Yes, I was often tired and overwhelmed, who isn’t? However, I just loved and still love being a mom. Turns out, my husband loved being a dad and once we made the decision to allow our fertility and family be dictated by God amazing things began to happen the biggest being that Dave had a strong desire to complete his Baptism and receive the other sacraments of initiation. Another blessing is that our marriage flourished and we became truly one flesh in every way. Every baby that we were blessed to receive solidified our commitment to each other and to our faith.

It’s not been easy, and the struggles continue but through the mothering of this little brood I truly believe that I can change the world. Mother Teresa said, “The woman is at the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved and through this love become instruments of peace in the world.” So this is my mission field, to be an instrument of peace in this little corner of Long Island that we occupy. To change the world through the raising of soldiers of Christ and sending them off to evangelize simply by the way they live and love. Changing the world on load of laundry, one potty training session, one recited alphabet at a time. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Resources for the Year of Faith

"It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, "have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church's Tradition "
Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei,
For the Indication of the Year of Faith

Lots of good resources here for the Year of Faith including some videos of EWTN shows:

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Children are the Heart of God Himself

I am pleased to welcome Kate Wicker to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Kate shares a special story with us today. I suspect many moms will relate to her reflection. Kate Wicker is a wife, mom of four littles, speaker, and the author of Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body. When she's not attempting to keep her home one step ahead of a health hazard, she is a regular voice on Relevant Radio and a health columnist for Catholic Digest. Visit for more information.

My Children are the Heart of God Himself

Several springs ago when my brood numbered three littles rather than four, I made the spontaneous decision - to strap the older girls into the double stroller and to tuck the baby in the Ergo and head outdoors for an evening walk. The girls were already in their pajamas and thought it was a great adventure.

For me, it was therapy.

The sky was bruised with clouds. It looked like a rain was on its way, and I hoped I might be able to drive out the hurt and the dull ache in my heart by physically pushing it out before the sky broke apart.

My older girls were quiet at first. A breeze cut across them, and I watched my two-year-old’s uneven wisps of blond air take flight in the wind. Back at home, a golden pile of my child’s hair sat on my dresser, evidence of an unfortunate encounter with scissors that went down while I had been nursing the baby to sleep for a nap. Those strands of hair were the straw that broke my back - and my patience.

Pushing the stroller ahead, I tried to keep from crying. It had been a day of too many tears - from the older girls who were stressed about an upcoming move, from a sick baby, and from a tired mom.

As I walked, I had trouble keeping my head where my feet were. My mind raced ahead to the future and how my actions from this day might affect my relationship with my daughters down the road. That image of me - the wonderful mom who is always gentle and never raises her voice - dissolved in the silent tears that began to track down my face.

We approached a patch of green where on solo walks I’d been known to see a rabbit hopping about. This is where I made my deal with God. I whispered to Him in my heart so my children could not hear. Let there be a bunny rabbit. Please give them that. Give me that.

I said to the girls, “Keep your eyes peeled. This is where I sometimes see bunny rabbits. And keep quiet, too. We don’t want to scare them away.”

The girls leaned out of the stroller, silent and seeking out a flash of fur in the maze of thick, green vegetation. My eyes strained, praying for my rabbit to appear.

But there was nothing. I experienced a childish anger toward God. Where’s my rabbit? Where’s my children’s little piece of happiness? Where’s my sign that you love me, forgive me, and are a real, breathing presence in my life?

I was about to mumble an apology to my girls about the dearth of cute, furry things (there had been as many apologies as tears that day), but my oldest daughter said something first.

“Mommy! I think I saw a rabbit. Really. I saw some white ears poking out.”

“Where?” I asked.

“Over there,” she pointed to a patch of vegetation we’d already cruised past. “When we turn back around, we’ll check to see if the rabbit’s still there.”

Of course, there was nothing there when we passed by the same place. To me, this was a corroboratory fact that it was only a mirage conjured up by the wishful thinking of a child. But to my daughter, it was proof. “It definitely was a rabbit,” she said, “because it’s not there anymore. It must have hopped away when it saw us.”

When we returned home, my girls commented on what a nice walk it was, especially because we “almost probably for sure saw a bunny rabbit.”

I flushed with pleasure. My regrets from the day seemed to soften with the sky that was no longer an ominous gray but a peachy pink.

My then five-year-old had a fractured ulna and radius acquired from a fall at the playground. The bones had already began to heal, the orthopedic surgeon had reported at her most recent appointment. Her fingers that had escaped the prison of her big, blue cast were still slightly puffy from the swelling, but she wielded her arm as she always had. She is resilient. Her bones are malleable. Her body is quick to heal.

And, thank God, so is her heart.

I’m tempted to see my maternal missteps as global pronouncements of my failure to nurture my children right. But my children see no such thing. They forgive and they forget. Their mercy  pours down on me like the spring rain that came later that same week that we had gone looking for rabbits. I hate when my raw edges are exposed and I fall short of the mother I want to be, the mother I am called to be. But it’s my children who smooth out those edges by their very love for imperfect me and their knack at seeing things - good, hopeful things - that I don’t.

While I’m busy looking for a sign from God that He loves and forgives me, my children are the heart of God Himself loving and forgiving me without me even asking for it.

Where I see everything I do wrong as a mother, they notice a lot of the things I do right - like taking them on walks at dusk in their pajamas to look for rabbits.

Where I see only wild grass, they see the rabbits.

Visit for more information.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ad Jesum per Mariam

Ad Jesum per Mariam

I        I am pleased to welcome Leticia Velasquez to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. She shares her special story which touches all of our lives. Leticia and her husband have three daughters including Christina who has Down syndrome. She  is the author of A Special Mother is Born a collection of inspirational stories from Catholic parents of special needs children, and a contributor to the award-winning Stories for the Homeschool Heart and A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy. 
In 2008 Leticia co-founded KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome) to raise awareness of the tragically high abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome. She has appeared on EWTN, diocesan TV, and Canadian Television, and on various radio programs across the nation. She is a correspondent for the National Catholic Register, and a contributor to several websites including her blog Cause of Our Joy, Leticia can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter @CauseofourJoy .  

CCC 166          Faith is a personal act — the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others.Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.

In 2002, I , the mother of two girls, became the mother of a baby girl with Down syndrome. It was something I never imagined I could handle, I rationalized that I didn’t have enough patience, that my marriage could not withstand the stress. Nevertheless, one Sunday morning, while attending Mass halfway through my pregnancy, I heard a voice in my heart, which said, “You are going to have a baby with Down syndrome.” 

I doubted this voice, and tried to shrug it off. But a few minutes later, I was in the Communion line and the voice said, “I want you to accept this child as a gift from My Hand.” I accepted God’s will and His Body in tears saying, “Yes, Lord, but please bring my husband along for the ride.” God used even my reluctant fiat to accomplish His will in my life.

Four months later, Christina was born and the voice was proved to be prophetic; Christina did have Down syndrome and was tiny at 5 pounds, but was otherwise healthy.  I felt surrounded by an embrace of love. Phone calls came, meals arrived, and over one hundred people attended her Baptism, in the pouring rain on Mother’s Day. Their faith kept me afloat when I was weak, recovering from a C-section, dealing with her jaundice and nursing issues, as well as supporting family members who were still coming to grips with the fact that she had Down syndrome.

My pastor connected me with the mother of a lovely twenty year old young lady with Down syndrome who calmed my fears by telling me that Kristin was happy, working a job a local bakery, busy with family activities, and a godmother three times over. Another friend sent an Elizabeth Ministry package with a book and CD “Sometimes Miracles Hide” which was full of testimonies of parents of special needs children. 

My faltering faith was buoyed by a loving tide of support from my faith community. Once I regained my stride as a mother, I began to notice that other mothers of babies with Down syndrome are not given such support.

I took Christina to her older sister’s softball game and it brought tears to the eyes of a mother who had felt unequal to the challenge of bearing a child with Down syndrome, and made the tragic choice of abortion. My baby helped this mother realize she had made a mistake; between 75-92% of moms who received a diagnosis of Down syndrome choose abortion. I resolved to share my story with moms like this who feel overwhelmed, as I did, but who do not have the beautiful community of support I enjoyed. 

I learned that my doctors were not going to pass my phone number to their patients, so I took to the Internet. There, I found a place to share how my little child with Down syndrome was a blessing to my family and the larger community. I shared how she was an example of faith by her simple prayers to God in times of need, her unconditional love of all those she met, and her boundless joy at Mass. 

Soon other parents shared their inspiring stories with me, and I collected them into a book A Special Mother is Born a collection of 34 stories from Catholic parents of special needs children who share what a blessing they are.

So many women have told me that these moving stories strengthened their faith, making them additional links in the chain of believers, and I am grateful to God for the grace to say “Yes” to His gift of Christina a little girl with Down syndrome. 

~Leticia Velasquez, Co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome) 
author of "A Special Mother is Born"  

Friday, November 2, 2012

They Just Don't Understand

It is my pleasure to welcome Patti Maguire Armstrong to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Today Patti speaks about the blessing of families.  

Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband Mark have ten children. Patti was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press's "Amazing Grace" series, published over 600 articles, appeared on EWTN Bookmark program, EWTN LIve, and Catholic TV as well as radio stations across the country. She is also winner of the 2011 Reader's Choice award.  Her latest books Big Hearted, (Scepter Publishers) and children’s book, “Dear God I don’t get it” (Liguori Publications)  will be released in Spring 2013. Visit Patti’s blog, Twitter or Facebook at author page  GPS Guide to Heaven and Earth  Homeschool Heart and Big Hearted Families

They Just Don't Understand

I once did not understand. So now, instead of getting upset when others don’t understand, I see it as an opportunity to inform or at least to pray for them.

When I came to understand Catholic teaching on love and marriage, my heart grew to include the unborn children I once thought I did not want.  Knowledge demanded action since my husband and I had taken permanent measures to end the creation of life in our family.  One reversal and four more souls later, our clan of ten, grew to twelve when we later accepted two orphans from Kenya. Love grows; pure and simple. But some just don’t know that.

Here are my thoughts to some of the people in my life over the years, who just didn’t understand.

To the guy I know from church who pointed to my pregnant belly and said, “Tell Mark the tax credits aren’t that good.” You just don’t understand what real treasure is.

To the man at the basketball game who shouted to me as I walked down the bleachers carrying our youngest one, “Is that the last one?”  Really? I may have smiled but I did not enjoy all the people in the lower bleachers looking up at me and waiting for my answer. I nicely told you that’s not a question you should ask people. If I wasn’t navigating my way down bleachers with a baby in arms, I might have said much more.

To the girl at Papa Murphy’s Pizza who loudly asked: “Are you having any more?” You certainly provided a teaching moment with all eyes in that small store on me, waiting for the answer.  Some things only God knows, especially the things we surrender to him.

To the man in the airplane who turned and angrily glared at me years ago when the baby kept crying.  I was traveling alone with three children; did you think I was pinching the baby to make him cry?  Your dislike of children was clear, but trust me, I was more stressed than you. What a blessing when we de-planed and a lady came over to tell me she had prayed for me. Thank you to everyone who quickly offered me help.  Sir, your heart is small and your anger quick. I said a prayer for you.

To the man who told me we are not Mormons:  No, I’m Catholic and so are you. Do you know what that means?

To any of the well dressed women in malls or grocery stores who were tempted to look down on me in my sweatpants with my large brood:  Don’t feel sorry for me, these sweat pants are comfortable, and the sneakers are too. I don’t want what you have but do you know what I have? 

To my son’s friend who commented:  “Imagine how rich your parents would be if they didn’t have so many kids.”  Do you know how rich we really are? There is nothing on the face of the earth that my son would trade in place of his siblings.

To another son’s friend who meant it as a compliment when he said, “I respect your parents for having so many kids and not taking welfare.”  I know you meant well but perhaps you confuse openness to life with dysfunction. Not that it’s wrong for people to need help sometimes, but your intended compliment showed ignorance on what it means to accept the blessing of a large family.

To all those who have made comments that they won’t be having anymore because they’ve gotten “fixed” or “taken care of it.”  Nothing was broken before. Surgically altering a healthy body to prevent natural functioning is not “taking care” of that body.  No judgment from me, however. Remember, I too once did not understand.

For those who made comments about how old my husband and I were with our last one, (45 and 44). We are including eternity in our timeline, are you?

To the woman at the fast food restaurant who thought I ran a day care. I do care for mine every day.  You were surprised when I said they were all mine but I loved the look on your face when I told you there were still four more. Thanks for the laugh.

To the nursing student who asked me how I can stand all the drudgery? Won’t you be cleaning bedpans and other messes and taking care of needy people?  The difference in what you will do and what I do is that I am taking care of the people I love most in the world.  I prefer the word blessing to drudgery.

To anyone who thought we were adding to an already overpopulated world.  Inform yourselves.  Most of the world is suffering—really suffering—from a population decline.  People are our greatest natural resources. Get out of town sometime and notice that most of the world is still empty. Or just remind yourself that God is all knowing. He would not have made a world too small to contain us nor make a heart too small to receive all that he has to give.
~Patti Maguire Armstrong